The Lexicon of CRM - Part 1: From A to I

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The Lexicon of CRM

Part 1: From A to I
R. Garland - October 12, 2001

0 - A 

360 degree view of the customer - A term used to describe the ability for virtually anyone in the company to know anything about the customer (products bought, support calls made, web site visits conducted, etc.). A "complete, 306 degree view" of customer information.

3G - Supposedly the ultimate wireless protocol technology that is already being used in areas outside of North America where countries have more readily converged on wireless protocol standards. Believed to be coming to the U.S. in 2002 or 2003. Supports data transmission rates between 384Kbps and 2Mbps.

ACD - Automated Call Distribution. An add-on feature to Customer Interaction Center PBX's (phone switches), ACD's intelligently handle and route incoming calls based on defined criteria (such as, next available employee, skillset, workload, group, etc.).

Ad Hoc - "In real time," or "On the spot." We often talk about Ad Hoc Queries, which are database queries that are created by the user in real-time.

Analytical CRM - A subset of Corporate Business Intelligence, which enables the generation of reports and graphs from information stored in databases to help users analyze various aspects of their business. For more details, see the Article CRM is Busting Out of It's Britches: Operational, Analytical, and Collaborative CRM Are Born.

API - Application Programming Interface. Typically, a "set of API's" will be released by the vendor of software, to enable programmers to write new code on top of the application more quickly by making use of pre-packaged code within an API set. Often used to either augment functionality, or to link one application to another.

ASCII - American Standard Code for Information Interchange. It represents the set of common characters that are typically recognized in America, including letters, numbers, and symbols. Each ASCII character is represented by a 7-bit number, from 0 to 127. For example, the ASCII code for uppercase 'M' is 77. Most computers use the ASCII text set, which makes it possible to transfer data from one computer to another.

ASP - Application Service Provider. In its simplest form, an ASP is a third-party service firm which deploys, manages, and remotely hosts a pre-packaged application or suite of applications in a "rental" or "lease" agreement. No software or hardware typically reside at the customer's site.

ATP - Available To Promise. This represents what product is currently in inventory and not claimed by another order; hence, available to promise to the current customer who is inquiring about availability.

Automated Request Routing - The ability of CRM software to route incoming requests based on defined criteria such as: person's name, skillset, group, availability, knowledge, or geographical location.


B2B - Business to Business. Represents business that is conducted primarily between two businesses.

B2C - Business to Customer. Represents business that is conducted between a business and end users or customers.

Bluetooth - A wireless protocol that allows two objects to communicate with each other, transferring data and transmitting information without having to "point" at each other as today's devices equipped with IrDA technology do.

BPR - "Business Process Reengineering." Includes business process analysis, design, and/or re-design, in advance of technology purchase decisions. For an in-depth discussion, reference two TEC Articles: CPR on BPR: Long Live Business Process Reengineering. Part I: A Primer and CPR on BPR: Practical Guidelines for Successful Business Process Analysis.

Business Intelligence (a.k.a. Analytics) - A global term used to represent the ability of software to generate information (via reports, graphs, and charts) about the performance of various aspects of the company and its customer relationships to foster intelligent decision-making.


Call Me Now - A web-based electronic Service (or "eService") feature which enables the customer to immediately request that a support representative call them over a POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) line for discussion.

Channel - Short-hand for Sales Channel; represents other companies that aid a company in the sale, and often implementation, of its products.

CIC - Customer Interaction Center. The term has supplanted the age-old term Customer Support Center. Meant to represent a more global view of the services this department conducts, including not only Service, but potentially Sales (via Telesales) as well as Marketing (via distribution of Marketing literature, running Outbound campaigns and the like). It's meant to represent a centralized Sales, Marketing, and Service organization that is co-located and cross-trained.

Clickstream Analysis - The analysis of the path that a user took through your website (as they clicked hyperlinks to access various areas). The data is used to understand such things as what areas of the site are popular, and, in turn, what products or services are being most inquired about, etc.

Client-Server - The 1980's model of corporate computing, where application processing was split (often haphazardly) between servers and client, or desktop, machines. For example, if a user were to run a query on a database, the database server might simply run the query and push all the data to the client; then, it's up to the client to do all the manipulation on the data (organization, summarization, formatting, etc.).

Collaborative CRM - Those pieces of CRM software that interact directly with the customer. Typically refers to web components, like web conferencing, web forms handling, automated email handling, and unified message handling and intelligent message routing; web assistance tools such as Live Chat facilities, and Voice over IP (VoIP), and collaborative web browsing. For more details, see the Article CRM is Busting Out of It's Britches: Operational, Analytical, and Collaborative CRM Are Born.

Collaborative Web Browsing - The ability for a Service Representative to "push" web pages to a customer's screen, or to lead the customer's browser with his or her own browser. Often used in the shopping process, when users are confused about next steps.

Context-sensitive Help - Help information that is specific to the location of your cursor on the screen. For example, if you had a question about a particular field on the screen, you could place your cursor in the field, and then request Help, and the Help system would be intelligent enough to provide information about that particular field (how to fill it out, in what format, etc.)

CRM -Customer Relationship Management software is defined as: software that promotes the direct interaction between customers and the company through support of the people and processes involved in the entire customer lifecycle. CRM software fosters a comprehensive, integrated approach to the customer, putting the customer at the center and integrating such corporate functions as Sales, Marketing, Customer Support, and Field Sales and Service, all in an effort to increase Customer Satisfaction, improve internal morale, increase sales, and differentiate the company from its competitors. (It can also mean "Corporate Records Management," but not in the context of TEC research.)

CSR - Customer Support Representative. The term for the employees who staff the Customer Interaction Center.

CTI - "Computer-Telephony Integration." Links incoming phone call information with information that already exists in the database related to that phone number, auto-populating Service Requests with basic information such as Contact Name, Address, Company Name, etc.


Dashboard - A member of the Business Intelligence family that represents near-real-time data feedback about particular performance measures. Called a "Dashboard" because the visual implementation of the functionality often looks like the dashboard of a car, with dials and gauges representing the "pulse" of the organization.

Data Mart - A Data Warehouse on a departmental level (for more information, see Data Warehousing).

Data Mining - A general term that represents exploring data sets and finding the valuable nuggets of information which help companies make better-informed decisions.

Data Warehousing- The collection of information from multiple, disparate databases into one database, against which Data Mining tools can be run to gather corporate-wide business intelligence.

DBA - DataBase Administrator. The engineer in the IT organization that keeps the corporate databases running at peak efficiency, maintains data backups, and ensures the accuracy and "cleanliness" of the data stored in the databases.

DSS - Decision Support System. An automated system that enables an employee, typically a manager, to make better decisions based on the analysis of collected data. The TESS (Technology Evaluation Support System) database system offered by TEC is an example of a DSS.


EAI - Enterprise Application Integration. Represents the efforts that often need to be made to link data between disparate applications running on different databases. CRM packages are trying to avoid external EAI requirements by building in and automating the links between their application components and data.

E-Business - An umbrella term for a total presence on the Web including the E-Commerce component.

E-Commerce - Sales and Service via the Internet.

E-CRM - Another vague term, but understood here at TEC to mean, any Sales, Marketing, or Service functionality that is automated electronically, typically via the web.

EDI - Electronic Data Interchange. The precursor to XML (eXtensible Markup Language). EDI represents, if you will, a common language that two databases can use to speak to one another directly, without human intervention. For example, if one company wanted to send a Purchase Order to another company via EDI, it could do so if both it and the receiving company follow EDI conventions and pre-establish EDI links between the two companies.

EMA - Enterprise Marketing Automation. A key component of most CRM packages, EMA enables the automation of typical marketing tasks, such as the compilation of campaign lists, and the qualification of leads.

ETL - Extraction, Transformation, and Loading. A term used with Data Warehouses. Part of the Data Warehouse functionality set, where data is pulled (Extracted) from disparate databases, Transformed into more easily understandable, and better linked form, and then Loaded into the Data Warehouse for Data Mining.

Extranet - That part of a company's own Intranet that is shared with a subset of external users. Typically protected by password or some other means.

F - G 

Fail over Capability - The ability for a server, when it fails, to "fail over" to a machine that is running in parallel and provide seamless, non-stop processing for users.

FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions. A list of questions that are repetitively asked of Customer Support Representatives. If a user views the FAQ list, they will find answers to the most commonly asked questions, saving the Support organization time and effort in handling repeat questions or problems.

FFA - Field Force Automation. Automating tasks and delivering content to employees, typically both Sales and Service Staff, who are in the field visiting customers.

Field-level Validation - The ability of a software package to validate what a user has entered into a particular field on a screen either in real time (usually when the user tabs out of the field), or in batch (typically when the user attempts to leave the screen). Types of validation include: checking for the existence of data, and checking for data that is entered in a particular format.

GPS - Global Positioning System. Starting to be incorporated in CRM Field Force Automation systems, so that the home office knows the location of its field resources (either people or vehicles or the like), and can use that data for more intelligent routing of field personnel.

GUI - Graphical User Interface. The standard style computer interface since it was introduced by Apple Computer in the late 1970's. Represented by icons, windows, and multiple fonts.

H - I 

Horizontal Applications - Applications that include functionality across corporate disciplines, such as Sales, Marketing, or Service.

IM - Instant Messaging. The ability for two or more users who are online to communicate via text in real time on their computers.

Inference Engine - A problem resolution engine that prompts the user to answer questions about the problem that they have, and based on the answers, will ask additional questions or make recommendations about actions that should be taken to resolve the problem. Acts almost like a stand-in for the back-and-forth that is typical between customer and Service Representative when problem solving.

Intranet - A network internal to a company that is based on the protocols of the Internet (namely, TCP/IP).

IrDA - Infrared Data Association. A communications protocol developed by a consortium of technology manufacturers for transmitting data via infrared light waves. The two units communicating must maintain a line-of-sight, and cannot be more than three feet apart. IrDA ports support transmission rates of approximately 115 Kbps (similar to traditional parallel ports)

IVR - "Interactive Voice Response." IVR is a software application that accepts a combination of voice telephone input and touch-tone keypad selection and provides appropriate responses in the form of voice, fax, callback, email and perhaps other media. IVR is usually part of a larger application that includes database access.

Integrated CRM - Integrated Customer Relationship Management systems are systems that have pre-integrated, or pre-linked, the various components of a typical CRM system, including Sales, Marketing, Service, E-CRM, and Field Force Automation. Most major CRM vendors consider their software to be Integrated CRM systems.

This concludes Part 1 of the series. Part 2 covers the Lexicon of CRM from J to Q. Part 3 covers the Lexicon of CRM from R to Z.

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